A Boeing 767-300ER of Delta Air Lines, one of the world's largest passenger airlines.|
Scandinavian Airlines Boeing 737-700 in 2008. SAS is Europe's most punctual airline for the third year a row.
A FedEx Express McDonnell Douglas MD-11. FedEx Express is the world's largest airline in terms of freight tons flown.
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 shortly after take-off. Ryanair is the world's largest airline in terms of number of international passengers carried. An airline is a company that provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit. Generally, airline companies are recognized with an air operating certificate or license issued by a governmental aviation body. Airlines vary from those with a single aircraft carrying mail or cargo, through full-service international airlines operating hundreds of aircraft. Airline services can be categorized as being intercontinental, intra-continental, domestic, regional, or international, and may be operated as scheduled services or charters.
The first airlines
Failed attempt at an airline before DELAG
American aviation pioneers, such as Rufus Porter and Frederick Marriott, attempted to start airlines using airships in the mid-19th century, focusing on the New York–California route. Those attempts floundered due to such mishaps as the airships catching fire and the aircraft being ripped apart by spectators. DELAG, Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-Aktiengesellschaft was the world's first airline. It was founded on November 16, 1909 with government assistance, and operated airships manufactured by The Zeppelin Corporation. Its headquarters were in Frankfurt. The four oldest non-dirigible airlines that still exist are Netherlands' KLM, Colombia's Avianca, Australia's Qantas, and the Czech Republic's Czech Airlines. KLM first flew in May 1920, while Qantas (which stands for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited) was founded in Queensland, Australia, in late 1920. European airline industry
The Imperial Airways Empire Terminal, Victoria, London. Trains ran from here to flying boats in Southampton, and to Croydon Airport. The first countries in Europe to embrace air transport were Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The earliest airline organization, a British group called Aircraft Transport and Travel, was formed by George Holt Thomas on 5 October 1916. He acquired several Airco D.H.4a VIII single-engine planes (designed by Geoffrey De Havilland), powered by 350-horsepower Rolls-Royce Eagle engines, and modified them to include an enclosed cramped space in the fuselage with room for two adventurous passengers. The service operated relief flights between Folkestone and Ghent. On 15 July 1919, the company flew a proving flight with an enterprising photographer on board across the English Channel, despite a lack of support from the British government. Flown by Lt. H Shaw in an Airco DH.9 between RAF Hendon and Paris - Le Bourget Airport, the flight took 2 hours and 30 minutes, and cost £21. On 25 August 1919, the company used the newly acquired plane, the DH.16s to start a regular service from Hounslow Heath Aerodrome to Le Bourget. This was the first regular international service in the world. The airline soon gained a reputation for reliability, despite problems with bad weather. In November 1919, it won the first British civil airmail contract. Six Royal Air Force Airco DH.9A aircraft were lent to the company, to operate the airmail service between Hawkinge and Cologne. In 1920, they were returned to the Royal Air Force. The service caught on and competitors soon followed. Handley Page Transport, made use of the manufacturing company’s wartime twin-engine bombers, converting them to haul up to...